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What are seagrasses?
They are flowering plants that have changed over time so that they are able to live in seawater. Some types of seagrass look very similar to grass, but other types look nothing like grass at all.
Where can seagrasses be found?
Most seagrasses grow in shallow coastal areas where there is good sunlight and a medium level of water current. More than half of the species of seagrasses found in the world live in Australian waters. They can also be found in places like South-East Asia and East Africa.
Why are seagrasses important?
They slow down the water current to make the ocean a safer place for sea creatures.
They give small sea creatures like prawns a place to live and breed.
They provide shade to sea creatures.
They are a source of food for many types of sea creatures, like small shrimps and snails.
What are the threats to seagrasses?
Seagrasses are sensitive to changes in the environment. Unfortunately, many communities of seagrasses have disappeared because of changes humans are constantly making to the environment. Some of these are:
More and more people living in cities, leading to more pollutants entering the oceans and damaging seagrasses.
More and more factories being built, meaning more waste from these places goes into the ocean and into seagrasses.
Run-off from homes and factories of things like fertilisers or pesticides. When these reach the ocean, they can cause algae to grow near the surface of the water, blocking sunlight from reaching seagrasses.
Boating activities like fishing and explosives fishing destroying seagrasses.
What can you do to help?
Ask your parents and any adults you know to:
Be safe and responsible when they go out fishing, to avoid hurting seagrasses.
Try to use less fertiliser on lawns and gardens so that there is less run-off into our oceans.
Seagrasses are an important source of food, shelter and safety to so many of our sea creatures. Let's do our best to protect them.